Man talking(l+r), Olive Garden sign(c)

JHVEPhoto/Shutterstock @peterpetrella/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘Enjoy your new and improved salad experience’: Ex-Olive Garden server reveals tricks the restaurant doesn’t want you to know about

'It’s starting to seem like my Olive Garden was cheating.'


Braden Bjella


Posted on May 8, 2024   Updated on May 8, 2024, 10:16 am CDT

With the cost of eating out at restaurants continuing its steady rise, eager eaters around the country are finding ways to save a few dollars while still enjoying the benefits of restaurant eating.

This can take a few forms. For example, some internet users have found ways to recreate famous restaurant dishes at home; others have employed meal-prepping tricks to ensure they get the most out of their dollar while ordering from a restaurant.  

Assisting in this exploration are the many internet users who have revealed the tricks and trades of various chain restaurants. Now, another TikTok user has joined that discussion with insider knowledge of the popular Italian restaurant chain Olive Garden.

In a video with over 1.3 million views, TikTok user Peter (@peterpetrella), who says he “worked at Olive Garden for three months,” reveals some of the “not-so-secret secrets that they just don’t tell you up front.”

To start, Peter shares that the restaurant’s “Tour of Italy” menu, which, per the company’s website, features “Chicken Parmigiana, Lasagna Classico and our signature Fettuccine Alfredo” on a single plate.

“For the Tour of Italy, you can, like, mix and match,” he says. “So, for example, if I want, like, ravioli instead of the, like, spaghetti, I can do that. I can substitute those things. In some cases, it might be an upcharge, but it’ll only be, like, a dollar-ish.” This is verified on Olive Garden’s website.

Second, Peter references the viral stories about buying a cheese grater from Olive Garden. He confirms that this is possible and that he has, in fact, “sold a cheese grater from Olive Garden.”

“But don’t go out buying Parmesan cheese, because they grate blocks of Romano cheese,” he advises. 

Yahoo! News has confirmed this. “It turns out that the cheese is actually Romano or a blend of Romano and Parmesan, and Olive Garden has said as much in its own social media posts,” writes author Allie Ward.

Next, Peter offers viewers a way to make Olive Garden’s alfredo sauce at home. In short, he claims that the company uses Rana brand Alfredo as a base. The Daily Dot could not verify this information.

“I usually take that—I get a five-cheese blend, Italian blend. I put a little olive oil, a little garlic, a little Italian seasoning, and then, boom, you have Olive Garden Alfredo,” he states.

Finally, he notes that all salads are hand-tossed, meaning that if one wants to customize their salad, they can simply ask their server and ingredients will be added or omitted upon request.

@peterpetrella Olive Garden fans rise up #olivegarden #og #lifehacks #restauranthacks #olive #darden #trending #fyp #foryou #foryoupage ♬ original sound – Peter

In the comments section, some users doubted Peter’s claims, especially concerning the alfredo.

“I worked at the OG for 11 years. Some of that was in production. We made the Alfredo from scratch every day,” said a commenter.

“I worked at OG for years and we made the Alfredo from scratch,” echoed another.

In response, Peter wrote, “It seems yours was superior LOL,” adding in another comment, “It’s starting to seem like my Olive Garden was cheating.”

Still, many users appreciated his tips, with a few adding their own.

“U can also get any pasta half and half sauce,” wrote a commenter. “i used to do half five cheese marinara and half alfredo!”

“That and anything that hits your table aside from liquor can be put in a Togo container,” offered a second. “I always told guests to order another helping or soup or salad for this reason.”

The Daily Dot reached out to Olive Garden and Peter via email.

Update 10:15am CT May 8: In an email to the Daily Dot, Peter offered other advice for Olive Garden customers.

“Another tip that viewers might not expect is to never be afraid to ask your server for something,” he wrote. “There are very few times where they aren’t able to accommodate or substitute, so anything is worth asking.”

He also noted one of the things that surprised him about working for the restaurant.

“Something that surprised me working there was that the employee benefits were actually really nice,” he said. “We would get free meals and unlimited breadsticks in our down time.”

“I want to add that especially based on the comments, the Alfredo bit truly could have just been a one off experience from my Olive Garden at the time,” he shared. “Everything was purely based on my own experience and anyone wanting to find out about their local Olive Garden should use their own discretion! I love Olive Garden, so I’ll always keep eating there lol!”

The internet is chaotic—but we’ll break it down for you in one daily email. Sign up for the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter here to get the best (and worst) of the internet straight into your inbox.

Share this article
*First Published: May 8, 2024, 8:00 am CDT